How necessary are Express passes?

StarSeven7

DIS Veteran
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
We've never been to Universal before but we're thinking of going there in March for 2 days. We normally never buy front-of-the-line passes when we go to amusement parks but we have loved using Fastpass/+ at Disney World in the past. We have not been since they switched over to Genie+ so I'm not sure how we will like that. How busy is Universal and do you find it necessary to have express passes if you want to avoid hours-long lines or is it manageable if you get there early and tour smartly? I keep seeing people mention that Universal is cheaper than Disney World but I looked at a 2 night stay at one of the resorts that includes express passes plus 2 day passes for the 4 of us and it was nearly $3000 which is about what we pay at Disney World for a week in a value hotel and passes! So I'm trying to figure out if we would be just miserable waiting in lines all day without it? Thanks for your input!
 

bchbetha

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 27, 2016
"was nearly $3000 which is about what we pay at Disney World for a week in a value hotel and passes!"
Well, the hotels that offer Express Passes are comparable- actually maybe even better than- the deluxes at Disney. So be sure you are comparing things evenly. :)
With just 2 days during spring break season, I would want Express Passes. If you are touring midweek then maybe you can get by without them.
There are single rider lines but there is no guarantee they will be open. I wouldn't want you to strategize under the assumption that you could just go that route.
FYI you can save money by just staying in one of the deluxes just one night- your express passes are from the time you check in through check out day. One night stay somewhere cheaper.
 
  • macraven

    Proud Redhead
    Moderator
    Joined
    Apr 21, 2003
    We've never been to Universal before but we're thinking of going there in March for 2 days. We normally never buy front-of-the-line passes when we go to amusement parks but we have loved using Fastpass/+ at Disney World in the past. We have not been since they switched over to Genie+ so I'm not sure how we will like that. How busy is Universal and do you find it necessary to have express passes if you want to avoid hours-long lines or is it manageable if you get there early and tour smartly? I keep seeing people mention that Universal is cheaper than Disney World but I looked at a 2 night stay at one of the resorts that includes express passes plus 2 day passes for the 4 of us and it was nearly $3000 which is about what we pay at Disney World for a week in a value hotel and passes! So I'm trying to figure out if we would be just miserable waiting in lines all day without it? Thanks for your input!
    Maybe I have misunderstood what you wrote
    If you stay at one of the 3 premier on site hotel at UO, free unlimited ep/ express pass to all guest (4) for the parks
     

    StarSeven7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2017
    Maybe I have misunderstood what you wrote
    If you stay at one of the 3 premier on site hotel at UO, free unlimited ep/ express pass to all guest (4) for the parks
    Yes, I understood that it includes the express passes. Sorry, I'm not sure what exactly you're confused about with what I said?
     
  • StarSeven7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2017
    $3k seems awfully high what are your dates and where are you staying? Is this thru Universal ?
    its often cheaper to get tickets and room separately
    I was looking in mid-March. It was at the Loew's Royal Pacific Resort, that was the cheapest resort that included express passes.
     

    StarSeven7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2017
    I priced it out separately and with the annual pass and it saves a few hundred dollars, but it's still a lot more money than we're looking to spend for 2 days at Universal. So just wondering how necessary people feel the express pass is?
     

    lisam70

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Oct 25, 2019
    That is peak season and as others have noted Universal has raised rates at the premium hotels since their demand has increased.
    I personally would never pay that much to go anywhere for just 2 days!
    Can you go at another time? Switching to after Easter rates drop by a lot
    I have never been during spring break but I'm sure its very crowded. What about staying at a cheaper hotel and just buying a one day express as an add on
     
  • kassonvike

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 15, 2010
    Wow. We have 4, 3-park Unlimited Passes (which I think are good for 14 days or something (more days than we need anyways)) and 7 nights at Hard Rock and we are paying $3800 (Jan 15 - 22). Does time of year make that big a difference on price? I agree $3k sounds high. I booked package directly from Universal.
     

    Dawn Peterson

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 30, 2018
    I have never tried without express pass but I always feel it is doable. We are morning people and lines are pretty good in the morning. You can’t use the express pass on Hagrids or Velocicoaster anyway. We have also never gone when the crowds are expected to be high. I just like walkability of the top 3 which is why I always chicken out of non express pass hotels. I do the same thing at Disney though. I prefer contemporary or yacht club.
     

    StarSeven7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2017
    That is peak season and as others have noted Universal has raised rates at the premium hotels since their demand has increased.
    I personally would never pay that much to go anywhere for just 2 days!
    Can you go at another time? Switching to after Easter rates drop by a lot
    I have never been during spring break but I'm sure its very crowded. What about staying at a cheaper hotel and just buying a one day express as an add on
    We can't go any other time as that is our kids' break from school and they've already missed a month of school because of another trip we took in the fall so I don't want them to miss any more! We're actually supposed to be going to London and Paris but not sure how that will work out so I'm looking for back up plans and my kids have always wanted to go to Universal. The express pass was a crazy price per day but I could check again to see what just one day would cost.
     

    lisam70

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Oct 25, 2019
    Wow. We have 4, 3-park Unlimited Passes (which I think are good for 14 days or something (more days than we need anyways)) and 7 nights at Hard Rock and we are paying $3800 (Jan 15 - 22). Does time of year make that big a difference on price? I agree $3k sounds high. I booked package directly from Universal.
    Time of year makes a huge difference and the more days you stay will drop the per night rate too
     

    StarSeven7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2017
    Wow. We have 4, 3-park Unlimited Passes (which I think are good for 14 days or something (more days than we need anyways)) and 7 nights at Hard Rock and we are paying $3800 (Jan 15 - 22). Does time of year make that big a difference on price? I agree $3k sounds high. I booked package directly from Universal.
    That definitely sounds more feasible on pricing! I'm sure that's a cheaper time of year for sure - we often go to Disney at that time because the rates are cheaper. Ideally, we would prefer to just stay in a condo for a week and go to Universal for 2 days but I just don't know if we would be miserable without any sort of way to skip some lines.
     

    StarSeven7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2017
    I have never tried without express pass but I always feel it is doable. We are morning people and lines are pretty good in the morning. You can’t use the express pass on Hagrids or Velocicoaster anyway. We have also never gone when the crowds are expected to be high. I just like walkability of the top 3 which is why I always chicken out of non express pass hotels. I do the same thing at Disney though. I prefer contemporary or yacht club.
    Thanks for your response! We generally try to stay in cheaper lodgings and were hoping to just stay in a condo for the week and do day trips to Universal for 2 days. We're morning people as well so getting there at park opening is not an issue for us.
     

    bchbetha

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 27, 2016
    What days of the week?

    I really do understand the desire to save money. Have you priced out the bundled tickets? They tend to be cheaper than buying tickets and Express Passes a la carte. They make it really hard to find on their website, in my experience. "
    Get Your Tickets Now Too – Bundle with Express.
    Be ready to hit the parks with combos that include park-to-park admission plus Universal Express Unlimited access."
    March dates range from $550-611, depending on date, for 2 day park to park tickets with express passes on each day.
    Your onsite Royal Pacific is cheaper because that doesn't even include a hotel.
    Sorry, I could have left out the whole bundle option but I thought it would be good to show the options.

    If you opt to use something like Touring Plans, run the plan by us because they give some pretty terrible advice that wastes a lot of time zigzagging around.

    If you had 3 days and/or it wasn't spring break season, I would say you would be fine without EPs. 2 days during busy season and not keen on really long lines seems like a no brainer to stay at RP.
     

    StarSeven7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2017
    What days of the week?

    I really do understand the desire to save money. Have you priced out the bundled tickets? They tend to be cheaper than buying tickets and Express Passes a la carte. They make it really hard to find on their website, in my experience. "
    Get Your Tickets Now Too – Bundle with Express.
    Be ready to hit the parks with combos that include park-to-park admission plus Universal Express Unlimited access."
    March dates range from $550-611, depending on date, for 2 day park to park tickets with express passes on each day.
    Your onsite Royal Pacific is cheaper because that doesn't even include a hotel.
    Sorry, I could have left out the whole bundle option but I thought it would be good to show the options.

    If you opt to use something like Touring Plans, run the plan by us because they give some pretty terrible advice that wastes a lot of time zigzagging around.

    If you had 3 days and/or it wasn't spring break season, I would say you would be fine without EPs. 2 days during busy season and not keen on really long lines seems like a no brainer to stay at RP.
    Thanks for the feedback! That's kind of what my thoughts were as well. We could look into 3 days as an option also in lieu of the express pass! We're open to any days of the week but my son's birthday is on the 19th so he really wants to do something special on that day! Also thinking about a single day at Hollywood Studios since we haven't been since any of the new Star Wars stuff has been added and he loves Star Wars!
     

    DavidNYC

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 20, 1999
    3K sounds very high for what you described unless you were getting two rooms. You can get 3-day park to park tickets for about $350 each (if you're doing two nights at a deluxe that's three days of express pass so might as well use them). That's $1400. Not sure how you're spending $1600 for a 2-night hotel stay - sounds very high. But also - for this price you're getting unlimited express passes. At Disney you're not. Best you get there is the ability to use an app to get a few ride reservation times at the times they pick for you and maybe be able to buy access to 1-2 more. Not even comparable systems.
     


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